When our good friends at MobiCity let us know the Optimus 2X was available for review, I jumped at the chance. Being one of the only Dual-Core handset currently available — the Atrix being the other one — I just had to review it. However, in all the excitement, I was let down. Let’s jump in and see why.
- Fast and fluent
- Good construction
- Feels very nice in the hand
- Great Camera
- In built screenshot function
- Android 2.2
- LG Skin/Launcher
- Restarts everyday
- Frequent “Force Closes”
Like I said earlier, I was very excited to get the 2X and start playing with it. Being a Dual-Core handset, I wanted to see what the actual speed improvements where from my Desire HD, with its single core 1GHz processor and can I say, the improvements were awesome.
We will however, get to the hardware later, for now, let’s get on with the chassis and build quality.
The Optimus 2X, in my opinion, is a gorgeous handset: its sturdy, feels good and not cheap. It’s also quite thin. It feels really nice in the hand, it is quite narrow though. It’s about as tall as my Desire HD but much narrower — this lends to the smaller screen being used.
The buttons have a very nice feel to them: easier to press with a nice “click”. The Sleep/Wake button is on the top right side of the handset — different to my Desire HD. It’s a much better location than the left. In the top, along with the Seep/Wake button, is the standard 3.5 mm stereo jack for audio and also the mini HDMI port.
On the bottom, it’s very iPhone-like, two speakers (though I believe one is a microphone) and the MicroUSB connector between them. The 2X also sports a front-facing camera and of course the 8MP on the back. On to the back cover, even though the back cover is plastic — like most of the handsets these days — it certainly doesn’t feel as fragile or cheap as the Xperia Play back cover. It also sports a nice brushed metal strip that runs from the cover, through the middle with the “with Google” insignia inscribed on it.
My pet hate has re-emerged with the 2X: button placement. This time the Menu and Home have been switched, leaving the order as: Menu, Home, Back, Search. Maybe one day my dream will happen of a uniform button placement on Android handsets, until then, I’ll just have to live with it.
As said before, the 2X gets its name from the Dual-Core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor it has jammed inside. It’s also the first smartphone to ever ship with the Tegra 2. Coupled with 512MB RAM and 8GB of internal storage and up to 32GB MicroSD storage, it has a lot of room.
The 4.0″ screen comes in at the standard 480×800 and does look very nice, and also is quite easy to see in direct sunlight. It’s slightly better then my Desire HD but still nowhere near the Xperia Play I reviewed last. All in all the 2X packs a serious punch, and it shows.
The 2X pulls some serious numbers in both Quadrant and NeoCore, shelling out an impressive 2181 and 76.9 FPS respectively, that really goes to show both the power of the Tegra 2 and also Dual-Core in general, and with being the first real run of Dual-Core chips out there, I can’t wait to see what kind of things they can get from the next generation chipsets.
The Camera is really nice; the software is customised and hasn’t been left to just the stock Android. It’s got settings a plenty, too many to really mention here, but my favourite would have to be Continuous Shot, which take around 5 photos in quick succession with one press. The shinning jewel in this handsets crown, other than the Tegra 2, is the 1080p video recording and playback. The 1080p video recording really is spot on — it’s smooth and fluent, doesn’t come off jerky or any of that really bad jelly vision kind of effect. Playback is also the same — it looks great and doesn’t jump or pause. If you after something with an awesome camera and great video, the 2X is definitely one to take a look at. The front camera is just a standard 1.3mp shooter. Nothing special
Battery life on the 2X is just what you would expect from a first gen Dual-Core handset. It chews the juice. I would have to charge the phone at about 8-9PM after taking the phone off charge at about 7:30AM. My day would include the usual usage for me: an hour of music playback, 4-5 calls, average of 2 to 5 minutes in length, 30-50 SMS, three Gmail accounts with push notifications and the normal 1 min Twitter refresh.
This doesn’t sound too bad, until you consider that the LG 2X has a 1500mAh battery, and the Desire HD has a 1230mAh battery, and the Desire HD has better battery life in the same conditions.
The software on the 2X is my biggest disappointment with the phone.
For starters it only runs Android 2.2 with LG not specific about when/if the 2X will receive an update to Android 2.3.
Next on the list of woe – the skin and launcher are pretty ordinary, and the keyboard doesn’t even default to a portrait QWERTY. Instead, they’ve decided to give you the LG Keypad keyboard as default and makes you either rotate the phone to landscape mode to unlock the QWERTY or manual change the keyboard type in the settings.
Even then the QWERTY keyboard LG give you isn’t very nice — let’s hope they don’t stuff around with the keyboard when (if?) the Gingerbread update comes. The keyboard aside (as it can be replaced by a free Market download) , it’s hard to look past LG’s use of their own skin. The launcher is extremely reminiscent of the Galaxy S, with the standard Phone, Contacts, Messaging, Applications icons in the “Dock”, in my opinion, very unoriginal. It looks like they’re trying to clone an iPhone layout…
The Messaging app is also very Galaxy S like with its text bubble colours using a bright blue as one half of the conversation. It just gives it a very cartoonish kinda feel, which frankly, I don’t like. The Contacts app is pretty much stock Android, just with a few more colour highlights here and there, the App Drawer is the same as in the Optimus One and i would assume, the Optimus range as a whole, not much to report there. One little thing that is a major inclusion is the ability to be able to take screenshots without rooting the device or using the Android SDK, simply press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons together and a screenshot is taken. Marvelous, just marvelous.
Other then not really looking all that great or even giving you the proper keyboard to start with, the actual LG skin just doesn’t work very well at all.
I’ve had the handset turn off randomly, most of the time when it’s in sleep mode, at least once a day. It will be in my pocket and I will hear the LG start-up tune, pull the phone out and it’s restarting. That’s not very good. I’ve also had instances where the handset has lagged quite a bit, and or it’s presented me with a black screen and I have to hit the “back” key and touch the app icon again. This to me seems weird for a handset that packs a Dual-Core processor. It also “force closes” on my favourite apps that work perfectly fine on my Desire HD.
This, despite the HD having been flashed with CM7, Rooted, custom splash and boot up screens and has been hacked to the hilt, yet the stock as a rock LG seems to crap itself every five seconds. That’s not good for a handset that is the first Dual-Core for LG and also the first of many new handset coming out for the company, e.g., Black and 3D.
If they are as bad as this, in regard to software, well I just don’t know what they are going to do. This was my disappointing experience with the 2X.
In conclusion, the 2X really has a lot going for it: the hardware is fantastic, it’s quick and very snappy, the camera has all the right things going for it and it’s a well designed, well constructed handset.
It’s just a huge shame that LG cannot get their software right.
It has far too many bugs and doesn’t run the latest version of Android yet, with LG opting for FroYo (2.2) instead of the much better Gingerbread (2.3). It seems strange to me, that even now, LG can’t seem to get the software right on their handsets. I just hope the Black and 3D don’t suffer from the same issues. It does beg the question — why did the networks decide not to take the handset? Was it because the Black and 3D showed more promise, or was it that the 2X really didn’t come through carrier testing very well?
This is probably something we will never know, but in a way I’m glad I got to review this handset, as much as I didn’t like it, and found it horrible to use, software wise, the hardware is really good, and it shows promise in what manufactures are doing with Dual-Core.
Overall, if your after a new handset and you want Dual-Core, I would wait. The 2X is not yet ready for prime-time and fingers crossed the update to Gingerbread will fix it right up, and it can stand alone on the Dual-Core hill, along with the Atrix anyway or…. Till the Galaxy S 2 and the Sensation hit the ground. Can it survive then? Not in my opinion.